Race Preferences in Online Dating

http://qz.com/149342/the-uncomfortable-racial-preferences-revealed-by-online-dating/

The above is an article that reveals the response rates across different races re: online dating, and the following are my thoughts.

A popular sentiment is often that being attracted to someone is subjective and therefore not open to discussion or criticism. However, there has to be a difference between only responding to one race based on attraction, and only hiring one race because of racism, right?

“We can’t help who find attractive when it comes to race”, maybe not. But, it is important to evaluate the politics of desire. We have to look at a society and see who is generally viewed as attractive and who is not, and why. It is important for a person to look at who they generally see as attractive, why they have those attachments and really begin to probe their own understandings. Why don’t you feel black women are attractive, for example? Would that change if you were in a different environment? What types of associations do you hold regarding black women on a less conscious level?

Additionally, this people seem to assert that negative associations (being black and therefore inferior) is racist, but positive associations are fine. They are not. Asian women are often deemed attractive because they are smaller in stature, more decidedly ‘feminine’ and thought culturally to be more submissive. We are not just talking about racism, we are talking about stereotypes of all kind, and they are all equally problematic.

Green eyes are fine if it they are green eyes, but if they are green eyes that are attractive because they are reminiscent/only attached to white women and white women are the ideal of beauty, it’s problematic.

The issue here is some people are attracted to the opposite of what they are told by society, or their parents or friends. It is often very subjective, but there are clear patterns that follow ‘racial logic’, unfortunately. Maybe we can’t change who we are attracted to, but if we truly begin to understand our motivations and ideals, maybe that will help us be less biased with our hiring….it’s all related, the problem is, it’s never clear how much.

Lastly, it’s important to understand that racial categories i.e. whiteness, are not stable categories, who we understand or view as white is constantly shifting as well (see the Irish in North America today versus 200 years ago, or Jews in North America today versus 50 years ago). Lastly, it’s important to recognize that white is not always the ideal of beauty or attraction, depending on when you are.

Anyways, those are just some thoughts!

Link

Russell Brand May Have Started a Revolution Last Night

I’m sure by now you’ve seen some clip or read some letter by this fellow that has made you realize he’s not just a joke, that he is actually quite brilliant. This just drives the point home. Watch it. Watch it now.

It’s so funny to see the interviewer squirm; his understanding of civic duty can only translate very narrowly to the act of voting, and Brand completely crushes him for it, yet, it’s the only paradigm of political action the interviewer can comprehend so he keeps coming back to it, struggling with his own interpretation. Actors, more of this please.

Female Muslim Superheros: Awesome

There are too many conversations around Muslim women in the mainstream media that attempt to paint them as victims who need to be rescued, or worse, threats to the western way of life. This comic is a wonderful example of Muslim feminism; yes, it exists. And it’s awesome. 

http://hakerann.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/qahera-muslim-superhero-comic/

Some thoughts on India’s Save Our Sisters campaign

1) Here is a new campaign that is being launched to address domestic violence in India.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/regajha/indias-incredibly-powerful-abused-goddesses-campaign-condemn

2) Here are some retaliatory remarks.

“A year ago, my little 4-year old came back from school, eager to tell me the story of how Ganapati got his elephant head. As I listened to her reciting the well-loved and familiar tale with gusto, I was struck by one jarring detail. “Parvati felt so sad when Shiva killed her little boy, she started crying,” she said, explaining how Shiva replaced his head to soothe his distraught wife. This was definitely not my grandmother’s Ganesha story. My daughter’s very progressive pre-school had sanitised the myth to fit the portrait of a happy modern nuclear family. Don’t worry, good daddies comfort sad mommies, and make it all okay. “No, baby, Parvati was so angry that she vowed to destroy the entire universe,” I corrected her, “The gods were so terrified that they ran to Shiva and begged him to bring the boy back to life.” The Parvati I grew up with was not a heart-broken waif, but powerful and feared goddess whose wrath had to be appeased in order to save all creation. This transformation is not restricted to one school play. The tamer version of the Ganesha myth rears its conservative head on various Hinduism sites online — from where it presumably found its way to my daughter’s school. In 21st century India, we have become uncomfortable with that other Parvati, the embodiment of the divine principle of Adi Shakti, the goddess of a 1000 names who strikes terror in the hearts of gods, demons, and mortals, alike. This year’s Ganesh Puja coincides with another such act of domestication. A new public awareness campaign is making waves for portraying Lakshmi, Saraswati and Durga as victims of domestic violence. The eyebrow-raising images of the “Save our Sisters” initiative are accompanied by text that reads: “Pray that we never see this day. Today, more than 68% of women in India are victims of domestic violence. Tomorrow, it seems like no woman shall be spared. Not even the ones we pray to.” The message is intended to shame: no woman is safe in our culture, not even our beloved goddesses. The Lakshmi who we once beseeched on bended knee for good fortune now sits sad-eyed on a lotus sporting a bloodied nose. This Saraswati’s infinite wisdom and knowledge are no defense against a black-eye. The same Durga who once danced on Mahishasura’s corpse now stands bruised, battered and teary-eyed, begging for our protection. This Saraswati’s infinite wisdom and knowledge are no defense against a black-eye. The campaign instead does grave disservice to both our deities and women. A male colleague points out that the campaign feeds into “this oscillation between women as goddess/ women as sluts that we can’t get out of as opposed to women as humans/equal citizens.” It is an updated iteration of the conservative woman-as-goddess theme; highlighting the plight of the Sati/Savitris and Ghar ki Lakshmis who suffer at the hands of uncaring men. It sends out the message that ”good” women deserve our protection and compassion — while unwittingly suggesting that the “bad” ones may not. Worse, the advertisements rob Indian women of our culture’s most enduring images of feminine authority by reducing our goddesses to victims, stripping them of their awesome divinity. Even in the most patriarchal reaches of our society, the powerful goddess offers cultural sanction for female desire, self-assertion, and power. As we are reminded over and again — in ritual and fiction — every woman carries within the her the seed of divine transformation. […] Transforming the triumphant, red-toothed Durga into an abused wife does not empower Indian women, but reinforces their helplessness. What hope do mere mortals have when even a goddess cannot resist abuse or protect herself?”
— Lakshmi Chaudhry, Durga Ma as a battered wife: A giant step backward for womankind

3) Here’s what I think

When I first saw these images, I thought they were messed up. How dare people reduce goddesses to women who are victims! I very much agreed with the sentiment echoed in the message above. Then, as I often have to, I took a step back from my thoughts. I realized I was judging the campaign from a western perspective that suggested revolution! Change! Equality! India is not there. I think, when it comes to India, the approach that has been working is incrementalism over drastic changes.

I think this quote is mixing two ideas. Firstly, the fact that the story of the goddess has been tamed is horrifying. There is no way around that. Sanitizing stories to fit modern models is ridiculous and detracts from the religion and the strength of female powerful figures. End. Of. Story.

However, and I’m torn on this, but maybe the new advertisements are a little bit brilliant. 80% of India is Hindu, and surely more than that are familiar with the images/stories of the gods/goddesses. What is wrong then, if we view the incremental approach as one that is has worked, with appealing to the religious angle for domestic abuse?

Yes, it sets up horrible binaries. No, it doesn’t set up a platform for the sexual/feminist revolution. Yes, I could write an academic paper discussing what is problematic about these images and probably come up with a million reasons why they could be harmful.

BUT

Close to 70% of women experience domestic violence.  If even one man stops hitting his wife/kids because he decides hurting women is like hurting the gods, or because he is shamed into it, isn’t it worth it? Maybe I’m being naive. I don’t know. What are your thoughts?